If only to draw the ire of Penn State fans nationwide, journalists like myself love to sensationalize, especially when it pertains to the story of Bill O’Brien and his fancy new contract. While the deal is far from the end-all-be-all for Penn State fans, it does leave a little to be desired. There are a few provisions I was surprised to see weren’t added.
For one, the amended deal adds no years to O’Brien’s contract, meaning as of now O’Brien will be free to leave following the 2017 season. The new deal also still includes a buy-out clause that would allow O’Brien to walk away whenever he likes if an NFL team comes calling. The team, or O’Brien himself, would be forced to pay his base salary multiplied by the number of years left on the contract to the university in order to acquire his services. While this may seem like a hindrance for any team looking to hire O’Brien, it is likely they wouldn’t bat an eyelash at the sum if it meant improving their franchise.
Still, I implore the people of Penn State not lose sleep over this deal. If O’Brien were going to leave quickly it is far more likely he would’ve done so at the end of last season than after the coming seasons. He now has his staff in place, his recruits on campus, and a locker room full of players who seem to believe that O’Brien is here for the long-haul, and I tend to agree with them. O’Brien’s ability to keep Penn State on the national recruiting radar is incredible, and shows that recruits seem to really believe in not only the system he’s building here at PSU, but also that the man himself is going to stick around.
O’Brien, a family man, seems right at home in State College. His principles are much the same as those of Coach Paterno, and he’s in a place where he can raise his sons without much of the fan fare that would accompany a job as an NFL Head Coach. His performance in his first year here at Penn State has provided him with job security he could never be assured of in the NFL, and the people of State College have already fallen in love with the mild-mannered 43 year-old. Given the circumstances and the air of comfort O’Bie has here, why would he want to leave?
So while the speculation and sensationalism are bound to continue, I urge Penn State fans not to worry. O’Brien’s new contract is nothing more than a well-deserved raise for a man who took a community in shambles and returned it to that crazy little thing we call normalcy. Nobody can predict if or when Bill O’Brien will leave for the “greener pastures” of the NFL, but I feel fairly confident in saying it won’t be any time soon. While Penn State has taken a liking to O’Brien, O’Brien has also reciprocated. Call me an optimist, call me naive, but I expect to see Bill O’Brien in the Penn State blue and white for a long time to come.
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